The John Smith’s Grand National remains the greatest horserace in the world; run over four-and-a-half miles and thirty of the most demanding fences in the world it remains the ultimate test for horse and jockey.
Last year we at BetVictor broke new ground by offering ¼ odds the first 6 on the race and the well-backed 15/2 favourite The Midnight Club scrambled home in sixth! Well we are back for more again this year and are betting ¼ odds 6 places on the National.
Ballabriggs is bidding to become the first horse since the great Red Rum (1973-4) to win the Great Race in successive years; Rummy was trained by Aintree legend Ginger McCain who sadly passed away back in September. There won’t be a dry eye in the house if Donald can emulate Ginger and saddle Ballabriggs to back-to-back wins!
Synchronised is bidding to become the first horse since Golden Miller back in 1934 to win the Gold Cup/National in the same year although there are many in the yard who believe AP McCoy is on the wrong one with Sunnyhillboy also fancied by connections.
I have long been a fan of Cappa Bleu and think the ground will be ideal for the 10-year-old who is one of three Evan Williams’ trained runners’ in the field. A winner of the Cheltenham Fox Hunters’ back in 2009 he finished third on ground, arguably, too testing in the Welsh National and must go close if adapting to these unique fences.
Always Right has more letters than numbers to his name this season but he travelled like much the best horse at Haydock last time and has had a minor operation to improve his breathing since he last ran.
So my each way (6 places) pin has come down on Cappa Bleu (4.15) and Always Right; it promises to be a cracker but as well as the Gold Cup winner we have the Champion Hurdler and two potential superstars on a magnificent card at Aintree.
The Aintree Hurdle sees Rock On Ruby (2.50) stepping up in trip after landing the Champion Hurdle at Aintree and Oscar Whisky stepping back in distance after the World Hurdle where he, palpably, failed to get 3m. Ruby Walsh rides Zarkandar who threatens to improve for this 2m 4f trip and, with the battle for the Trainers’ Championship between Nicky Henderson and Paul Nicholls’ a wonderful sub-plot, it looks a vintage renewal.
Exciting Cheltenham winners Simonsig (1.45) and Sprinter Sacre (2.15) are difficult to oppose in their respective races although it was suggested that the Henderson horses didn’t exactly fire on Thursday and their form on Friday should be monitored.
The ground has gone against Cannington Brook who would have appreciated the heavy showers that bypassed the track on Wednesday and Thursday; with good ground expected Marufo (3.25) did us a favour at Newbury last month and can defy a 7lb rise on a track that he has already won over hurdles for his previous yard.
Kazlian (5.05) is 6lb higher than when running a cracker at Cheltenham and, although softer ground would suit, this easier test should suit and he can go close in a tremendous conditional jockeys’ event.
There is a decent flat card at Lingfield and I can pass on a good word for Whatsofunny (3.40) who was too green to do herself justice at Kempton on debut but who promises to improve considerably with that experience under her belt.